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50 Facts About Every Candy in Your Bag

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Haul of Fame: From Reese's to Twizzlers, some candies are guaranteed to end up in your bag this Halloween. Unwrap these tidbits about a few of the most popular sugary treats.

1. OVER 200 MILLION SKITTLES ARE PRODUCED DAILY.

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The colorful treats were originally imported when they were first sold in 1979. Today, they are manufactured in the United States—by the millions.

2. MILK DUDS WERE NAMED AFTER A FLUKE.

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Instead of the symmetric candies they were intended to be, the first batch of this chocolate caramel candy came out of machinery oval-shaped. When an employee F. Hoffman & Company, the company producing the brand, called them “duds” and the name stuck.

3. THE MYSTERY FLAVOR OF DUM DUMS ISN’T A COMPLETE MYSTERY.

Dum Dum Lollipops
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The mixture for these lollipops, which often don wrappers with question marks, is created when the last of one batch of the candy is combined with the beginning of a new batch.

4. SWEDISH FISH ARE VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY.

Swedish Fish

C. C. Chapman, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

These vending machine staples—which first appeared in the U.S. in that late 1950s—fall in the “starch jellies” category, defined as firmer gummy candies that don’t contain any gelatin.

5. SOUR PATCH KIDS HAVE OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD ORIGINS.

Sour Patch Kids
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Initially dubbed Mars Men, these Canadian creations were inspired by the growing fascination with UFOs in the '70s. However, when they made their way to the U.S. in 1985, the name was changed to Sour Patch Kids, to reflect a more timely American obsession: Cabbage Patch Kids.

6. MIKE AND IKE ARE FICTIONAL.

Mike and Ike

Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The fruit-inspired sweets from the Just Born company aren't named after real people, according to the brand. But that hasn't stopped fans from coming up with their own theories about the inspiration behind the name. Some believe Mike and Ike is a reference to a popular vaudeville act, while others attribute it to a 1937 song “Mike and Ike (The Twins).”

7. THE “LOLLI” IN LOLLIPOP PROBABLY DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT DOES.

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While many believe that the word for the handheld candy comes from ice-lollies (also known as ice pops or popsicles), which hang downward as they melt, that’s not the case. Instead, lolly is an Old English dialect term for the tongue.

8. DOVE CHOCOLATE IS THE MOST POPULAR CANDY IN CHINA.

Dove chocolate
Frazer Harrison // Staff // Getty Images

The chocolate company may be headquartered in the United States, but it scores high marks overseas. By some estimates, about 34 percent of the chocolate consumed in China is made by Dove.

9. KIT KATS WERE ORIGINALLY CREATED TO BE CONSUMED WITH TEA.

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Early marketing for the popular wafer candy focusing on selling the Kit Kat as a meal, but the company also encouraged customers to treat it as a snack. One example: a Kit Kat slogan that called the treat “the best companion to a cup of tea.”

10. CANDY CORN STARTED OUT AS “CHICKEN FEED.”

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The colors of the popular Halloween candy are inspired by the shades of actual corn kernels.

11. YOUR FAVORITE PROBABLY MAKES AN APPEARANCE IN THE GUINNESS RECORD-HOLDING LARGEST COLLECTION OF CANDY WRAPPERS.

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For more than three decades, Milan Lukich Valdivia from Tacna, Peru, amassed a total of 5065 candy wrappers from 49 countries. The collection claimed the title in 2015.

12. FRINGE LOVERS FAN OUT OVER RED VINES.

Red vines

Nik Pawlak, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When the Fox sci-fi series—which ran from 2008 to 2013—was in danger of not having a fourth season, fans sent the studio a sweet surprise: 200 cases of Red Vines, a favorite of one of the characters on the show. And it worked. The show eventually went off the air after five seasons.

13. TOOTSIE ROLLS HELPED PERK UP WORLD WAR II SOLDIERS.

Tootsie Rolls

Brave Heart, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Treasured for their ability to withstand hot weather and stay in mint condition over time, Tootsie Rolls were seen as a small bite of “quick energy” by the U.S. military during World War II.

14. HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE HAS LANDED ON THE MOON.

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A heat-resistant version of the chocolate bar called the Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar was created in collaboration with the military. The treat, which could last up to an hour in 120 degree temperatures, was placed aboard Apollo 15 in 1971.

15. ACROSS THE COUNTRY, REESE’S REIGN SUPREME.

Kim Jones, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

By some estimates, Reese’s cups earn the number one spot among Halloween candy brands. In fact, Hershey sells more than $500 million worth of Reese’s annually.

16. IN GERMANY, KIDS SCORE FREE HARIBO GUMMIES ONCE A YEAR.

Haribo candy factory

PATRIK STOLLARZ / Staff // Getty Images

Every October, a tradition that started in the 1930s continues: Kids can visit the Haribo headquarters to trade in acorns and chestnuts for free gummy treats.

17. YOU PROBABLY REACH FOR MIKE AND IKE AT THE MOVIES.

Mike & Ike

Alex Guerrero, Flickr // CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The candy brand is the best-selling non-chocolate candy at movie theaters—and has commanded that spot for years.

18. CHOCOLATE SHOULD BE STORED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.

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Experts warn that storing your sweet stuff in the fridge will lead to condensation. “Water is the enemy of chocolate,” Andrew Black of MAST Chocolate—the New York-based bean-to-bar chocolate makers—told Mental Floss.

19. AT THE NEW JERSEY FACTORY, 2 BILLION M&M’S ARE PRODUCED EVERY EIGHT HOURS.

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That means that 69,000 of the mini chocolates are manufactured every second.

20. HERSHEY'S KISSES STARTED OUT AS A LABOR OF LOVE.

Hershey's Kisses

Lori & Todd, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1907, when the drop-sized chocolate candies were first introduced, workers wrapped each one by hand.

21. HARIBO TREATS DELIGHT IN DENMARK.

Haribo gummies

PATRIK STOLLARZ / Staff // Getty Images

The company, notorious for their gummy bears, is the most popular candy brand among Danes. But residents of Denmark are known for having a sweet tooth in general. Compared to the average European, each Danish citizen eats twice as much sweets, at an average of 18 pounds annually.

22. MILKY WAYS DIDN'T ALWAYS INCLUDE CARAMEL.

Milky Way

Amy the Nurse, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It’s hard to believe that the candy bar’s most well-known feature wasn't always there, but the original ingredients included eggs, sugar, and air.

23. YOU WON’T FIND FIZZL’D FRUITS SKITTLES.

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You might be able to “taste the rainbow” by way of six flavor sets of Skittles, but the Fizzl’d Fruits isn't one of them. The powder-covered Skittles were discontinued in 2012.

24. MILK CHOCOLATE WAS CREATED BY THE SWISS.

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After attempting to combine milk with chocolate for eight years, Switzerland-based confectioner Daniel Peter finally discovered the necessary ingredient to make the combo work in 1870: condensed milk, made by his neighbor Henri Nestlé.

25. PEZ CANDIES PACK IN A LOT OF PRESSURE.

Pez candy

Dave Lawler, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

3000 pounds, to be exact. That’s what it takes to turn the raw ingredients of the sugary treat into Pez candy.

26. CARAMEL AND BUTTERSCOTCH ARE SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME.

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Both mixtures include melted sugar, vanilla, and butter. But while caramel is based in white granulated sugar, butterscotch uses brown sugar instead.

27. BEING ABLE TO HOLD A PEZ DISPENSER WITH ONE HAND WAS A DESIGN GOAL.

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The flip-top dispenser has a very deliberate design. According to the original patent, the one-hand opening was “important not only for persons having only one hand but also persons who often have only one hand free (for example motor-vehicle drivers), or whose occupation causes their hands to become smeared with dirt.”

28. REESE’S PIECES WEREN’T ALWAYS REESE’S PIECES.

Reese's Pieces

Ravi Shah, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Hershey debuted the bite-sized peanut butter cups in 1978 with the name PBs before they were eventually renamed Reese's Pieces.

29. THERE’S A REASON HARIBO’S GUMMIES ARE BEAR-SHAPED.

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Founder Hans Riegel was inspired by the festivals in his home country of Germany and the dancing bears beloved by children at those celebrations.

30. EVERY YEAR ABOUT ONE MILLION MILES OF TWIZZLERS ARE PRODUCED.

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That’s nearly 76 times the length of the Great Wall of China.

31. THERE IS A DUM DUMS LOLLIPOP MASCOT.

Dum Dums

Sarah Browning, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Conceptualized in 1966, the Drum Man travels across the country, waving with his white-gloved hands and spreading the word about Dum Dums.

32. STARBURSTS ARE AVAILABLE IN ALL-PINK SETS.

Starbursts
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But you’ll probably have to hit eBay to find them. The limited edition strawberry-only packs were released for a short run in April 2017.

33. THE JOLLY RANCHER NAME HAS SWEET INTENTIONS.

Jolly Ranchers

Dave Kirkman, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

According to the company, the name Jolly Rancher was chosen for these bright-colored treats “to suggest a hospitable, western company.”

34. LAFFY TAFFY AND RUNTS WERE BOTH LAUNCHED BY A CLASSIC FILM.

Laffy Taffys

Jasmin Fine, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which was financed by Quaker Oats) brought both attention and sales to the sweet treats featured on-screen.

35. TODAY'S SNICKERS ARE SLIGHTLY SLIMMER.

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In 2013, candy empire Mars Inc. put all of their chocolate products on a diet, promising to only sell sweets that were 250 calories or less. That meant fans had to say goodbye to king-sized versions of their favorite treats and also that the regular-sized, 280-calorie Snickers bar got a makeover.

36. IN CANADA, SMARTIES ARE KNOWN AS ROCKETS.

The treats (which pack in 25 calories per roll) are produced 24 hours a day in New Jersey and Ontario, but they have different names in each location. 

37. CHEWING GUM CAN HELP PREVENT SONGS FROM GETTING STUCK IN YOUR HEAD.

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Gum can do more than occupy your mouth, it can also help occupy your mind. According to scientists from the U.K.'s University of Redding, chowing down on the sticky substance helps to temporarily degrade your short-term memory, making it easier to shake off a tune that you can't stop thinking about.

38. BUTTERFINGER COMMERCIALS INTRODUCED MANY PEOPLE TO THE SIMPSONS CHARACTERS.

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The iconic TV family didn't make their first appearance on the silver screen when The Simpsons premiered on Fox in 1989. The characters actually started on the comedy variety series The Tracey Ullman Show and likely picked up their biggest audience when they starred in Butterfinger commercials in 1988.

39. ALL OF THE SUGAR IN YOUR HERSHEY'S TREAT WILL BE SUSTAINABLY SOURCED BY 2020.

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In May 2016, the company announced plans to establish "rigorous standards to ensure sugar has been responsibly grown and harvested." There are also plans to sustainably source 100 percent of its cocoa by the deadline as well, up from 50 percent in 2016.

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The fruit leather-inspired snack got a shout-out from the popular sitcom in 2000.

40. JELLY BELLY'S VOMIT-FLAVORED JELLY BEAN WAS BORN WHILE TRYING TO MAKE A PIZZA-FLAVORED VARIETY.

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Getty Images

While the process for created a unconventional Jelly Belly flavor is elaborate and thorough, sometimes there are happy accidents.

41. MILKY WAY BARS STARTED OUT SUPERSIZED.

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The original Milky Way treats weighed more than 3 ounces, compared to the just over 1.8 ounces that they are today. The reasoning: Mars Company founder Forrest Mars thought his treats would quite literally overshadow their Hershey bar competitors. He once said, “People walked up to the candy counter and they’d see this flat little Hershey bar for a nickel and right next to it, a giant Milky Way. Guess which one they’d pick?”

42. IN THE LATE 1980S, THERE WAS A NERDS CEREAL.

A 1986 commercial introduced fans of the sugary treat to Nerds cereal, which featured two flavors in one box and spouts on each side. After disappointing sales, the product was removed from shelves.

43. COWS MAY LIKE CANDY AS MUCH AS WE DO.

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For years, companies have been selling off their defective sweets (like Skittles, gummy worms, and dried fruit) to farms. With increasing prices for corn feed and other traditional cattle food, these treats are a cheaper alternative to fill the animals' starchy sugar needs.

44. BUTTERFINGERS WERE THE FOLLOW-UP TO BABY RUTH CANDY BARS.

Both chocolate bars are products of Curtiss Candy, a company that was once one of the largest candy competitors in the business.

45. SOUR PATCH KIDS ARE TONGUE-ACTIVATED.

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The ingredient list for Sour Patch Kids includes citric and tartaric acids, both full of protons that allow our tongues to recognize the sour flavor. When you pop a Sour Patch Kid into your mouth, those ingredients mix with saliva and the protons increase, upping the sour flavor.

46. ACROSS THE WORLD, NOT ALL KIT KATS ARE CREATED EQUAL.

Kit Kat Switzerland Singles

FABRICE COFFRINI / Staff // Getty Images

The number of “fingers” varies from country to country. Aussie Kit Kat fans can enjoy a 12-finger block, while those in the Middle East are used to Kit Kats sold with three fingers.

47. MARS BARS ARE AVAILABLE IN A SPREADABLE FORM.

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The Mars bounty spread mimics the flavors of the candy bar, including coconut flakes.

48. HEATH BARS WERE ORIGINALLY MARKETED AS A HEALTHY TREAT.

Heath bar
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The candy—a combination of butter, sugar, almonds, and milk chocolate— was once thought to pep a person up.

49. THE CREATORS OF AIRHEADS REPORTEDLY ONCE TRIED TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE: MAKE A SUCCESSFUL GRAPE ICE CREAM.

Airheads

Special, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Unfortunately, it wasn't successful. Just like similar products from other companies that have made the attempt, including Ben & Jerry's, Airheads’s grape flavor didn't fly off the shelves. Though it’s possible to make the ice cream flavor on a large scale, there’s a reason it will probably never become more popular.

50. OCTOBER 28 IS A BIG DAY FOR CANDY CORN.

Candy Corn
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The official National Candy Corn day might be October 30, but according to sales, it’s unofficially on October 28, the day when the largest amount of the tri-colored candy is sold.

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Food
Brine Time: The Science Behind Salting Your Thanksgiving Turkey
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At many Thanksgiving tables, the annual roast turkey is just a vehicle for buttery mash and creamy gravy. But for those who prefer their bird be a main course that can stand on its own without accoutrements, brining is an essential prep step—despite the fact that they have to find enough room in their fridges to immerse a 20-pound animal in gallons of salt water for days on end. To legions of brining believers, the resulting moist bird is worth the trouble.

How, exactly, does a salty soak yield juicy meat? And what about all the claims from a contingency of dry brine enthusiasts: Will merely rubbing your bird with salt give better results than a wet plunge? For a look at the science behind each process, we tracked down a couple of experts.

First, it's helpful to know why a cooked turkey might turn out dry to begin with. As David Yanisko, a culinary arts professor at the State University of New York at Cobleskill, tells Mental Floss, "Meat is basically made of bundles of muscle fibers wrapped in more muscle fibers. As they cook, they squeeze together and force moisture out," as if you were wringing a wet sock. Hence the incredibly simple equation: less moisture means more dryness. And since the converse is also true, this is where brining comes in.

Your basic brine consists of salt dissolved in water. How much salt doesn't much matter for the moistening process; its quantity only makes your meat and drippings more or less salty. When you immerse your turkey in brine—Ryan Cox, an animal science professor at the University of Minnesota, quaintly calls it a "pickling cover"—you start a process called diffusion. In diffusion, salt moves from the place of its highest concentration to the place where it's less concentrated: from the brine into the turkey.

Salt is an ionic compound; that is, its sodium molecules have a positive charge and its chloride molecules have a negative charge, but they stick together anyway. As the brine penetrates the bird, those salt molecules meet both positively and negatively charged protein molecules in the meat, causing the meat proteins to scatter. Their rearrangement "makes more space between the muscle fibers," Cox tells Mental Floss. "That gives us a broader, more open sponge for water to move into."

The salt also dissolves some of the proteins, which, according to the book Cook's Science by the editors of Cook's Illustrated, creates "a gel that can hold onto even more water." Juiciness, here we come!

There's a catch, though. Brined turkey may be moist, but it can also taste bland—infusing it with salt water is still introducing, well, water, which is a serious flavor diluter. This is where we cue the dry briners. They claim that using salt without water both adds moisture and enhances flavor: win-win.

Turkey being prepared to cook.
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In dry brining, you rub the surface of the turkey with salt and let it sit in a cold place for a few days. Some salt penetrates the meat as it sits—with both dry and wet brining, Cox says this happens at a rate of about 1 inch per week. But in this process, the salt is effective mostly because of osmosis, and that magic occurs in the oven.

"As the turkey cooks, the [contracting] proteins force the liquid out—what would normally be your pan drippings," Yanisko says. The liquid mixes with the salt, both get absorbed or reabsorbed into the turkey and, just as with wet brining, the salt disperses the proteins to make more room for the liquid. Only, this time the liquid is meat juices instead of water. Moistness and flavor ensue.

Still, Yanisko admits that he personally sticks with wet brining—"It’s tradition!" His recommended ratio of 1-1/2 cups of kosher salt (which has no added iodine to gunk up the taste) to 1 gallon of water gives off pan drippings too salty for gravy, though, so he makes that separately. Cox also prefers wet brining, but he supplements it with the advanced, expert's addition of injecting some of the solution right into the turkey for what he calls "good dispersal." He likes to use 1-1/2 percent of salt per weight of the bird (the ratio of salt to water doesn't matter), which he says won't overpower the delicate turkey flavor.

Both pros also say tossing some sugar into your brine can help balance flavors—but don't bother with other spices. "Salt and sugar are water soluble," Cox says. "Things like pepper are fat soluble so they won't dissolve in water," meaning their taste will be lost.

But no matter which bird or what method you choose, make sure you don't roast past an internal temperature of 165˚F. Because no brine can save an overcooked turkey.

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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